Attorney Sarah Pitney It can be so hard to stay positive as an immigration attorney in times like these. Every day, we face new assaults from the president, the attorney general, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Justice. This week, we learned that the attorney general is attempting to circumvent due process by telling immigration judges to reject asylum petitions without a full hearing if, upon initial review, they appear to be fraudulent or unlikely to succeed.
This month, we are pleased to honor Angie Salguero as our Client of the Month. Angie, a transgender woman from El Salvador, won her case for asylum last month in front of the immigration judge in Baltimore, MD. Angie’s story of violence and persecution from a very young age included physical abuse by the police and gangs, the loss of family, a dangerous trip to the United States, and stay in immigration detention.
This month we are thrilled to recognize Milan Stankovic as our client of the month. After filing his I-589 asylum application and three evidentiary filings, several hours of grueling interviews, numerous status inquiries, and six long years of seeking protection in the United States, Milan has finally been granted asylum. Milan, previously a professional soccer player and small business owner in his home country of Serbia, fled his home in 2011 following years of brutal violence against him.
I’m Sophie Macklem-Johnson, and I am about to be a senior at Grinnell College (Dree’s alma mater). I am majoring in History and Spanish, and have a concentration in Latin American Studies. I have been speaking Spanish and learning about Latin America since I was started Kindergarten at a Spanish immersion elementary school in Minnesota. I am sure my parents couldn’t have foreseen how much of an impact their decision to send me to this public school rather than the one in our neighborhood would have on my worldview, values, and career aspirations.
My name is Jane Vukmer, and I am a third-year student at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. This summer, I worked as the Trans Asylum Fellow for Benach Collopy and Whitman-Walker. The Benach Collopy and Whitman-Walker legal partnership provides pro bono legal services to transgender asylum seekers who have been victimized, abused, tortured, and persecuted in their country of origin. I have had the great privilege to work on seventeen different asylum cases involving transgender women from Central America who fled their country due to persecution based on gender identity.
Christine Rains Just a few short months ago I was studying abroad and living in Madrid, having never lived in the United States under the new Trump administration. Every night I would watch headlines about the new administration’s policies in relation to immigration streaking across the screen and I would sigh with frustration and shame as my host family would question how I felt about everything. Earnestly, I was downtrodden and felt rather helpless and complacent in the way that I was not doing anything constructive to help the situation—I really just wanted to know what I could do.
Immigration in Iowa: Countering Dominant Narratives by Lily Hamilton* *Lily Hamilton is an intern at Benach Collopy where she works on asylum issues, LGBT immigration issues, and the fine art of satisfying the Immigration Court Practice Manual. I stumbled across an article awhile back on the New York Times site that sparked my interest. As a native Iowan, naturally any article from the Times mentioning my home state would give me pause.
Elias E. Eljuri There are moments in life when the true nature of something is revealed in the fog. Sometimes, an object will only reveal itself slowly as the fog lifts. Other times the object shines brightly cutting through the fog with its clarity. For example, as the evidence of Russian interference and espionage in the 2016 Presidential election mounts, the true nature of the Russian government is becoming increasing apparent to many in the U.S.
Earlier this month, Ava Benach received the Fenner Award for Public Service from Whitman Walker Health Legal Services. She got it for doing what she does best– winning cases! The award recognizes the unique relationship that Benach Collopy has formed with Whitman Walker Health. Whitman Walker Health is the premier health care provider serving the LGBT community in Washington DC. Since its founding in the early days of the HIV crisis, WWH has expanded its services to provide more holistic assistance to its community.
The Benach Collopy Asylum Summer Fellowship 2017 I have been so lucky to get to know so many brave, hard-working, family-oriented, and generous people from all over the globe. They all shared one thing in common: a willingness to take a chance to come to the U.S. to be the person they knew they were meant to be. -Ava Benach Description of Fellowship Surging violence against transgender and gender nonconforming communities worldwide continue to force a record number of individuals to seek protection at U.S.